Those of you following this blog will doubtless have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while and haven’t posted regularly in even longer than that.

I confess, I was stressed and burnt out on book blogging. But I’ve made a switch that is already making a big difference for me.

So, I’ll now be book blogging along with Steph (of Poetry to Prose), Lindsey (A Storm of Words), and Katie (Bookishly Yours). Some of you may know that we call ourselves the bevy, so our new blog is aptly titled The Bevy Bibliotheque!

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.45.57 AMSo, this is the end of an era of sorts… but as the other option was giving up book blogging, I’m very excited about the decision. Almost Grown-up will still stay around, but I only intend to use it for major bookish updates now.

I hope that you’ll join the four of us on our new bookish adventure! We’re very excited for it.

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Hello everyone! I’m pleased to welcome Jean Feiwel to the blog today, celebrating the recent launch of Macmillan’s new YA romance imprint and community, Swoon Reads. Swoon Reads is a really cool concept and I highly recommend you check it out– especially the writers among you!

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Swoon Reads Logo horizontal

Swoon Reads is a new YA romance community for writers and readers, but even more exciting is that it is a revolutionary new crowd sourced romance imprint that is dedicated to publishing books that capture the intensity and excitement of teen love.

So what does that mean?

Are you a writer and working on a YA romance novel? You can submit your manuscript to Swoon Reads. They accept any genre: historical, adventure, paranormal, contemporary, etc.

As a reader, you can become intimately involved with the publishing process by reading, rating, and commenting on submissions. The manuscripts achieving the highest ratings by readers and the Swoon Reads editorial team will be published in both print and e-book formats. Some manuscripts have already been submitted and are generating great discussion!

Swoon Reads wants to give you the opportunity to see what goes on behind the publishing process and you get to decide what they publish!

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Jen: What’s your top setting for a romance?

JF: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Jen: If you HAD to choose: who is your OTP (One True Pairing) from any medium?

JF: Nicholas Brody and Carrie Mathison from HOMELAND

Jen: And finally, what is your favorite FILMED romance moment? (Think Grey’s Anatomy: “Pick me, choose me, love me,” When Harry Met Sally on New Year’s Eve, any incarnation of Darcy/Lizzie Bennet FINALLY getting together, just as an example of a few of my favorites… ;) )

JF: The ‘Dirty Dancing’ scene with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone from CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.

Jen: Thank you so much for stopping by, Jean!

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Jean Feiwel is the Senior Vice President and Publisher of Feiwel and Friends and Square Fish imprints of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She spent over 20 years at Scholastic where she was the architect for their Trade Publishing programs and imprints, as well as the creator of bestselling series, including The Baby Sitters Club, Goosebumps, Animorphs, and Dear America. In 2006 she joined Macmillan and founded Feiwel and Friends and Square Fish, Macmillan’s paperback division. Feiwel and Friends publishes bestselling and acclaimed authors, including Nancy Tillman, Marissa Meyer, Catherynne M. Valente, Ann M. Martin, Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate, and James Preller. Square Fish was launched with the reissue of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time Quintet and now published over 350 titles, including Speak, Tuck Everlasting, The Cricket in Times Square, and Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty. In 2009, Feiwel was also named Publishing Director of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She lives in Westchester County with her family.

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horde_blogtourbannerHello, everyone!

I’m thrilled to welcome Ann Aguirre back to Almost Grown-up today, as a part of her blog tour for the conclusion to her Razorland series, HORDE! The Razorland trilogy is a kick-ass post-apocalyptic series, and I can certainly say that Horde is a strong conclusion.

While reading Horde, I was struck by the various fighting styles used– and how Ms. Aguirre suited them to her different characters. I’m going to hand the floor over to her to speak about that a bit more.

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The fighting techniques in the Razorland series are not any one martial art used today. For instance, Deuce’s combat style is a fusion of kali knife fighting and Krav Maga. If you’ve read the short story, Foundation, you know how the enclave began. (If not, then you should read it!) As a result, they had a variety of survivors from the bunkers that united with the people who had already been living below the city; the population of the latter was comprised of burnouts, dropouts, drug addicts, the mentally ill, alcoholics, and others disenchanted with modern life for other reasons. While it’s possible that martial artists could’ve been among their number, it’s unlikely, given that practicing such a pastime requires certain discipline.

Therefore, as their society evolved and they became more martial to defend their territory,horde the styles came from whatever someone remembered or could invent. A lot of lore was lost when they went underground, so some of the strikes would have no modern counterpart. Fade, for example, uses what I call survival style, and when he’s actively in mortal peril (or Deuce is), he basically turns into a berserker. Adrenaline drives his strikes and he’s more resistant to pain. Stalker, on the other hand, fights with a blend of kung fu and silat. If you’re not familiar with the latter, you can find some videos on YouTube; it’s a knife-fighting technique from Malaysia.

In contrast, Tegan learns to fight from James Morrow, a character introduced in Horde. Her style is a modified version of old Japanese  staff fighting. With her weak leg, she can’t manage a lot of the more acrobatic maneuvers, but the style is adapted successfully for her use, permitting her to defend herself better and to feel like she’s a full member of Company D, not just a medic. Since Morrow grew up in a more civilized environment (you’ll know what I mean once you read Horde), he had access to resources and knowledge that had been lost elsewhere. So his fight training was less savage and more formal and stylized, like the gentlemen in England who took up boxing. Likewise, James Morrow learned to fence, so he’s the closest thing to a proper sword fighting in the whole series.

It was great fun figuring out how each character would fight. Another new character introduced in Horde is a bit of a brawler and he prefers his guns, so it made sense he’d be more of a wrestler, a grappler, and still another new character combines pistols with kickboxing; I’m particularly proud of that. And his significant other is all about the crossbow, and she prefers the high ground. At this point, I’m not naming names of all these new people but I hope the teasing make readers eager to make their acquaintances. I’m sure eager for everyone to get their hands on the final volume. I’m dying to find out what people think of the finale.

In your opinion, what’s the coolest fighting style?

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So, readers? What *is* your favorite fighting style?

Horde will be available October 29, 2013, but you can preorder from:

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Books & Books

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In the meantime, you can check out other posts about the Razorland series on Almost Grown-up!

Enclave review | Outpost review | Outpost audio sample | Outpost blog tour: an interview with Ann Aguirre

Also, don’t miss out on the chance to win a COMPLETE set of Ann Aguirre’s Razorland books! Simply enter via Rafflecopter below!

(US/Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And you can catch up with the rest of the blog tour here.

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Today is the day! Remember the teaser I posted the other day? Well, today I’ve got the Inaccurate Realities cover!

Drumroll please– Here’s the cover for Inaccurate Realities’ first issue: FEAR.

fearcoverreveal
I know I’ve got the creeps! The Fear issue will be released October 20, 2013.

Check out Inaccurate Realities at their website and add FEAR to Goodreads here!

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UVCTitle: Ultraviolet Catastrophe

Author: Jamie Grey

Standalone

Publish date: September 24th 2013

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo

Source: ARC received from author

Goodreads summary:

Quantum Electrodynamics. String Theory. Schrödinger’s cat. For sixteen-year-old Lexie Kepler, they’re just confusing terms in her science textbooks, until she finds out that her parents have been drugging her to suppress her outrageous IQ. Now Branston Academy, a school run by the world’s most powerful scientists, has tracked her down and is dying for her to attend – as a research subject.

She takes refuge at Quantum Technologies, a secret scientific community where her father works as a top-notch scientist, and begins her new life as girl genius at Quantum High. But the assignments at her new school make the Manhattan Project look like preschool – and Lexie barely survived freshman algebra.

Her first big assignment – creating an Einstein-Rosen bridge – is also her first chance to prove she can hold her own with the rest of QT’s prodigies. But while working with the infuriatingly hot Asher Rosen, QT’s teen wonder, Lexie uncovers a mistake in their master equation. Instead of a wormhole, the machine they’re building would produce deadly ultraviolet rays that could destroy the world. Now Lexie and Asher have to use their combined brainpower to uncover the truth behind the device. Before everyone at Quantum Technologies is caught in the ultraviolet catastrophe.

Song in my head: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

Review:

I so enjoyed my reading of Ultraviolet Catastrophe by Jamie Grey.

Jamie Grey has a writing style that flows easily. Ultraviolet Catastrophe is a quick read with a fun premise and it’s positively rife with nerdy references and humor. When the main character, Lexie, mentioned owning a TARDIS cookie jar, I about fell over. And the references don’t end there. With a cast of characters that are born to genius and excel at science, the references fit.

Especially when they come from Asher Rosen, who makes nerdy T-shirts look damn good. Guys, I crushed hard on Asher. He has a bunch of one-liners that made me giggle, he’s smart, and he’s gorgeous. He’s a little cocky and has a reputation as a being sort of a ladies’ man, but somehow it works– he doesn’t come off as a douchenozzle.

I really loved the development of his relationship with Lexie. Instant attraction is obvious, but most of the time Lexie is pretty level-headed about her crush, which I appreciated. They develop as friends first– albeit flirty friends. I also enjoyed the side characters as well, such as Max and Zella– though Zella threw me off a bit. She can’t seem to decide if she wants to be nice to Lexie or not.

And I really enjoyed the fact that an important plot element in Ultraviolet Catastrophe was Lexie’s relationship with her parents– most notably her dad. Because of the decisions her parents made in order to protect her, her relationship with her father is a distant one, and even more fragmented over the revelations of her past.

As for Lexie herself, she was a fun character– despite her genius, she’s easy to relate to and funny. At times, I felt like we rehashed her anger with her parents a little too much– and sometimes reacts in a way that made me want to roll my eyes. HOWEVER, did she feel like an authentic teenager in those instances? Most def.

The science of the book was fairly easy to follow. Some explanations made my eyes gloss over, but I suspect that’s years of disengaging in science courses at school at work, rather than Grey’s writing. Lexie’s evolution from her drugged genius to bonafide genius seemed a bit inconsistent at times, most notably in the beginning, but Ultraviolet Catastrophe recovered from that stumbling block as the plot progressed.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mystery at play– someone is sabotaging Quantum’s Einstein-Rosen bridge, and it’s plotted extremely well– including the climax and resolution. I can say no more! You’ll have to read Ultraviolet Catastrophe by Jamie Grey for yourself and find out. ^_~

Need a second opinion?

“This book has an interesting premise, a fast paced, solid story and some great characters.” -Fiction Fare

“There are not enough words to tell you how much I enjoyed this.” -KK Hendin

 

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Hello, friends!

I’m so pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for the first issue of Inaccurate Realities literary magazine’s first issue! Coming in October, the first issue’s theme is “Fear.” So appropriate, right?

Inaccurate Realities is a young adult speculative fiction literary magazine and I, for one, am so happy that its creators have stepped up to address the lack of a place for short YA spec fic. You can add their “Fear” issue to Goodreads here.

Now that you all know what’s what… here’s your teaser!

inaccurate lit teaser
Be sure to follow Inaccurate Realities on Twitter (@Inaccuratelit) to catch their next teaser! And stay tuned for the final cover reveal on Friday, September 27th!

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somethinglikenormalTitle: Something Like Normal

Standalone

Author: Trish Doller

Publish date: June 19th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Source: Purchased

Buy it from: Amazon| Book Depository | IndieBound | Books & Books

Goodreads summary:

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Review:

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller is an utterly engrossing contemporary read.

Very often, I find male contemporary leads either hard to believe or just plain off-putting, but that wasn’t the case here. Travis isn’t cheesily waxing poetic about his feelings for Harper, but they come through clearly. He feels so authentic, but doesn’t make the jump into douchebaggery.

I also loved that, although this is a romance, the larger story here is about Travis’s journey. He is fractured and changed after his experiences in Afghanistan and that changes his relationships with family and friends when he comes home. He’s reconciling the things person he was with the person he is now, and trying to figure out where the two overlap.

I don’t know any Marines personally, but I found the portrayal of Travis and his friends very realistic. I also freakin’ loved Harper. I adored how she stood up for herself and though she isn’t the main character in this book, it goes to show you that a female character doesn’t have to literally kick ass to be a strong female character.

I devoured the book quicker than I expected as it’s rather short and was sad to see it end, but I look forward to future works by Trish Doller!

Need a second opinion?

“If you are looking for a contemporary book to knock your socks off, a book that could fall under the new adult category, you NEED to read Something Like Normal.” – Good Books and Good Wine

“This was one of the most realistic books I’ve ever read.” -Hello, Chelly

Something Like Normal certainly packed a punch for a book that was shorter than I expected.” -Alexa Loves Books

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aweektobewickedTitle: A Week To Be Wicked

Spindle Cove #2

Author: Tessa Dare

Publish date: March 27th 2012 by Avon

Source: Purchased

Buy it from: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Books & Books

Goodreads summary:

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be…anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they’re in “love”
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe…just maybe…love.

Review:

You ummmm… might have gathered that A Week To Be Wicked is not YA. I needed a good romance novel to shake things up a bit and Angel of Mermaid Vision Books recommended I try A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. The price was right– it was 0.89 for kindle at the time of purchase.

Though technically the second book in a series, they’re essentially companion novels and I didn’t feel at all like I’d missed anything. I dove into A Week To Be Wicked and found just SO MUCH to love.

There are certain romance tropes that I adore: and a couple of protagonists who don’t quite see eye-to-eye and consequently bicker a lot is one of them. (I am 99% certain that this stems back to my enduring love of Sailor Moon, but anyway…) Minerva and Colin are NOT friends when this book starts out. Minerva has almost no respect for him and he’s not her biggest fan either. Watching that relationship shift was wonderful and their interactions are positively rife with moments that me laugh out loud.

And the heat between them. Lord. I mean LORDY BE. The more ummm… carnal scenes were DELICIOUS. I practically needed to fan myself.

Basically, what I’m saying: if you’re looking for a YA break or if you’re a historical romance fan, pick this one up. I promise you won’t regret it.

Need a second opinion?

“A WEEK TO BE WICKED is definitely one of the most well-written historical romances out there” -Alexa Loves Books

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dreamthievesTitle: The Dream Thieves

The Raven Cycle #2

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publish date: September 17th 2013 by Scholastic Press

Source: ARC from BEA

Buy it from: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Books & Books

Goodreads summary:

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Review:

Prepare to feel feels, my friends. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you something that I didn’t enjoy about The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, but I can certainly pick favorite aspects.

The Dream Thieves was as fascinating as The Raven Boys as the characters and relationships in the series continue to evolve. The characters and their relationships MAKE this series for me.

We see SO MUCH of Ronan in The Dream Thieves and– I’ll confess he wasn’t my favorite in The Raven Boys. I found him interesting, absolutely, but– I just never go for the bad boy, you know? Here, we start to really get him. Learn more about his past. What drives him. There is a core to Ronan that is terrifyingly fragile. It feels like the wrong step could break him. When his dreams start to LITERALLY come true, it is no fairy tale. It’s both terrifying and fascinating.

Said wrong steps are constantly being taken around the forever-angry Adam. There is NO PLEASING Adam. He drove me absolutely insane, determined to always see insult where there was often good intent. Especially when it was delivered by Gansey.

Ahhhh, Gansey. Still a bit obtuse and deliberately heavy-handed in his friends’s lives, but I LOVE Gansey (and his top-siders make me swoon). In some ways, he feels like such an old soul. World-weary. But in others, it’s as though he’s naive to the ways of man. I swooned over Gansey.

And BLUE! I continue to love how gloriously snarky Blue is, but like the others, her snark masks a fragility. Blue is afraid of falling in love– afraid of what it will mean.  I spent a lot of time ruminating on that. She’s destined to kill her true love if she kisses him. Feeling responsible for a death would be terrible, but feeling you could have prevented the death of the person you love if you had just STAYED AWAY? The idea is mind-boggling. I love how cautious she is with the boys because of it. It drives me to conflicting feelings because I half want to be like:

nowkissBut I’m afraid of what will happen if I get what I want.

Oh, oh and Noah? Oh, Noah makes me HURT inside for all that he should have had, stolen away from him.

Maggie Stiefvater’s prose continues to be layered and hypnotic, with dead-on dialogue and humor where it should be. The relationships between all of the characters from Aglionby to those of the psychics Blue lives with are really interesting, with inherent conflicts in those relationships crashing to a head as the hunt along the ley line grows fiercer.

It all adds up to a book that I very thoroughly enjoyed and a series that I can hardly wait for the next book of.

Need a second opinion?

“It’s hard to say what I love best about this book: the lyrical writing, the mythology, or the characters. Actually, it’s not that hard. It’s most DEFINITELY the characters.” -Writer of Wrongs

“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it.” -The Midnight Garden

“As much as I loved this book, it did not WOW me as much as TRB did.” -The Quiet Concert

4 Comments

fangirlTitle: Fangirl

Standalone

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publish date: September 10th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Source: ARC from BEA

Buy it from: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Books and Books

Goodreads summary:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review:

I didn’t love Fangirl like I expected to.

My expectations are somewhat obvious. I identify with the title. I frequently call myself a fangirl. And a main character who writes fanfiction? Having spent the ages of 13-19 immersed in fanfiction, and still dabbling in it to this day, I anticipated an easy connection with Cath.

And Cath and I had a lot of things in common! Besides the fanfiction angle, we both majored in Creative Writing, are somewhat bad about dealing with strangers (particularly of the male variety), and went to college knowing about one other person. For Cath, it’s her twin sister, and for me it was my best friend, whom I’ve known since the age of 11.

Maybe the fact that Cath and I had so much in common is why I couldn’t connect with her. Was I maybe trying too much to have a character make the decisions I would make?

I do think that’s part of it, particularly as it pertained to her schoolwork. I found myself wanting to scream at her over and over again. And it made me angry how, although she professes an degree of insecurity, it often felt to me like she shamed those who wanted to have the typical college experience or dealt with things in ways different from her.

And the fandom aspect didn’t come through for me. I understood that Cath spent a lot of time and effort on her Simon Snow work, but where was the joy in it? It’s so wrapped up in her identity, but FEELINGS have always been what’s driven me to participate in fandom and I didn’t feel Cath’s feels for Simon Snow but one or two times. I also found the long excerpts of her ‘fics and the Simon Snow novels distracting from Cath’s personal journey. Not to mention that I was distracted trying to draw the obvious parallels between Simon Snow and Harry Potter.

Rainbow Rowell does, however capture those feelings of social ineptitude while trying to navigate life on your own very well. I was drawn easily back to my freshman year, remembering how I felt like clutching my textbooks to my chest constantly, as though they could protect me from my teacher’s judgements or my own missteps.

Cath’s changing relationship with her twin sister was also fascinating– like a rubber band, they stretched apart, but sprang back together. I also enjoyed Levi, but sort of “sided” with him during a conflict between him and Cath.

The brightest of bright spots in Fangirl was, for me, Cath’s prickly roommate Reagan. I adored Reagan, with her badassery and firm self-identity. I loved how she forcibly pulled Cath from her shell in her own dry way, snarky and wonderful.

Despite my many issues with it, I did really enjoy Fangirl, and rated it 4 stars. I think for people curious about fandom, it might be a good introduction to the culture, and it was nice to enjoy a college setting for a change.

Need a second opinion?

“Even now that I’m finished with college, I know that this is a book I’m going to keep coming back to.” -Queen Ella Bee Reads

“We see the fiction. We don’t see the heart.” -Stacked

“It was such a complete package for me.” -The Perpetual Page Turner

“I had some trouble at times, specifically connecting with Cath.” -The Book Addict’s Guide

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